RICHMOND — After voting to approve rent control earlier this year, Richmond has officially repealed the ordinance following a petition drive by a powerful realtor group.
The ordinance would have prevented landlords from increasing rents by more than 2 percent each year and made it more difficult to evict tenants. It was approved by narrow margin in early August, following months of meetings that drew passionate arguments from tenants’ rights advocates and others worried about displacement as well as opponents who said that it curtailed property owners’ rights and made it difficult to afford improvements.
In passing the ordinance, Richmond became the first California city in more than 30 years to pass such a law.
But because it was passed with a council vote, not a voter referendum, the ordinance could be repealed if enough signatures were gathered to oppose it. In early September, California Apartment Association, which opposes the ordinance, mounted a petition drive, turning in 7,000 signatures to the city. The campaign included highly-paid petition gatherers, who received $12 a signature, and allegations of false information and misrepresentation of the ordinance. Approximately 20 percent of the collected signatures were determined insufficient by the Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters.
On Tuesday, Richmond City Council had the choice to call for a special election on rent control or hold a referendum during the general election in November 2016, but did not vote for either option. A special election would cost the city between $200,000 and $250,000, while a referendum during the municipal election would reduce the cost to $50,000 to $70,000. Councilwoman Gayle McLaughlin, one of the proponents of rent control, said that she was continuing to meet with community groups about next steps.
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